Praise and Presence in 2020

2020 is almost hear. The New Year, and our metaphorical reset button. It’s a time to set goals, and direct our focus towards new habits. As I’ve been reflecting this past year, and looking towards the new, one word continues to come to mind: Praise.

That word probably brings about thoughts of the praise time at church. Hands lifted up. Maybe a little dance party going on. But more specifically, I’m thinking about what does praise look like in the everyday. It can be easy to give praise, and direct our attention to God in the times of excitement. A new family member, whether by birth or adoption. A promotion at work. A family member gaining citizenship. All of these things are exciting and praise worthy. Some of us may even feel called to pray in hard times. Though we are angry and grieving in loss, we may feel lead to direct our focus towards God and praise through the pain, declaring “God is still good.” However, what do we do with the boring. The mundane. The simple day-to-day….life. Diaper changes. Dish washing. Laundry folding. More dish washing (because it really never seems to end). Where is the praise in this?

Practice of the Presence of God

Brother Lawrence was a monk that lived in 16th century France. He wasn’t necessarily anyone special in his time. Most probably would have seen him as just a simple cook. But he was a master of practicing praise in the mundane. A quote from his book, Practicing the Presence of God:

โ€œWe can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of Him, and [when thatโ€™s] done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before Him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.โ€

Praising God can be simply doing small things with great love for God. Faithfulness in the small things.

What are the small things in our lives? Could those be an act of praise?

As I read the words of Brother Lawrence, a verse that resonates is

Psalm 90:17 “Let the favor of the Lord God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

Whether we are picking up stray baby doll accessories for the umpteenth time, or scrubbing toilets, or scraping ice off our windshield….may we see the grace of God in our life and be drawn to praise.

Habits of Praise

It doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t know about anyone else, but my natural reaction while doing the dishes is not necessarily praise. I will be the first to admit that I’m a grumbler…especially when it comes to doing the dishes. But praise is not a reaction, it’s habit.

Paul encouraged the Philippians to examine their thoughts, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, or admirable, if anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about such things,” Philippians 4:8. In the same way, may we screen our thoughts. As we are doing the dishes, instead of grumbling, may we see the food God has provided for our family. As we are folding laundry, may we give thanks for those tiny that where those tiny socks.

May we be present in our own lives to see the grace God has given us. May we not be so distracted and intent to escape the mundane that we miss the hidden miracles.

In this new year, my prayer is: God is good, even in the small things. May I see His goodness.

What is that one task that you dread?
Where can you see an opportunity to praise in that chore? How might our perspective shift if we chose to praise in the ordinary?

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